Monday, 28 March 2016

Coach Watch Series - 3: Timothy Williamson

In the late eighteenth century some notable export businesses were built in London, clocks and watches often being the stock-in-trade.  There was considerable demand from the Ottoman Empire, China and India for highly decorative pieces of a quality standard not met by local craftsmen.  Perhaps the best known English entrepreneur was James Cox, to whom I referred in my post, ‘Soho Sophistication.’  Timothy Williamson, like Cox, was not a horologist himself, his own craft skills being those of the goldsmith.

Britten’s dates/locations are: 1768-88; 196 Fleet Street (1769-75); 59 Fleet Street (1777-83); 90 Great Russell Street (1785-88). 

Roger Smith, writing in Antiquarian Horology, says:  ‘The goldsmith Timothy Williamson may have organised the making of his own distinctive cases, but their movements could well have been supplied by the well-known clockmaker, William Hughes, with whom Williamson has close links.’ 

Working dates for Hughes according to Britten’s were 1766-94.  He worked at 119 High Holborn, an address which became famous as being that of Thomas Earnshaw, who took over Hughes’s business.  Earnshaw, though already time-served when he arrived in London, looked upon Hughes as his mentor. 

This Coach Watch ‘by’ Williamson was made for China.  Diameter is 85mm and the movement number is 3416, probably 1785-90.  It is a twin train verge with Grand Sonnerie strike, moon-age and centre seconds complication.  The case is gilt with paste stone decoration: 

Courtesy Ashland Investments

A similar style watch by Williamson, number 2780, was offered, but not sold by Antiquorum at a Geneva sale in October 2000, with estimate of $14,000 - $17,000.  That one’s diameter was no less than 140mm.

Hughes’s own watches tended to be plainer, though of high quality, and he signed the dial:

Courtesy of

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